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Proteins (AHL & C1)

Although we are learning this in the Chemistry of Life unit, it is actually part of the SL Option C and HL additional material, so look for the book chapters in the right place!

Essential Biology 7.5 & C1: Proteins


Life Cycle of a Protein from Sumanas

Making polypeptides from John Kyrk

Check that you know the different levels of protein structure, including the roles of hydrogen bonds and disulfide bridges. Think about how the properties of the R-groups on amino acids cause the protein to fold up in a set configuration.



Make sure you can give examples of fibrous and globular proteins and that you can name some examples of uses of proteins that are not structural or related to the plasma membrane.

And don’t forget to play FoldIt – the brilliant protein puzzle that helps medicine!

Foldit – help science by playing a game

Foldit is ridiculously addictive.

It is a protein-folding game/simulation, designed and produced collaboratively between the University of Washington’s Computer Science and Engineering and Biochemistry departments. There is a great introduction to the roles of proteins in metabolism and disease, as well as protein folding, on their about page.

Apart from the great software and in-game tutorials in protein structures, players at the highest level may be contributing to medicine! The University and associated labs are setting problems of protein folding for players to solve – each one an important molecule in its own right and some even the key to curing some diseases.

There is a great article about the game on ‘Computer game’s high score could earn the Nobel prize in medicine.’ There’s even a classic quote from co-developer Prof. David Baker:

“I imagine that there’s a 12-year-old in Indonesia who can see all this in their head.”

Too right. Let’s represent for Indonesia!

Here’s a quick clip of the game in action at a high level:

Download the game here and get playing!

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